Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird have warned that Tony Abbott’s ill-advised freeze on the indexation of grants to local councils will tear vital funds out of regional Australia – more than twice the impost being placed upon metropolitan councils.
The freezing of the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants means that $4,276,234 has been ripped away from Throsby and $4,571,057 from Cunningham over the next four years.
Stephen Jones said that it was yet another example of the Abbott Government making cruel cuts without considering what it would mean for people living outside of metropolitan areas.
“The Senate has been told that the Abbott Government has done no analysis of the impact of its unfair Budget on regional communities. The Minister with responsibility for rural health, Senator Fiona Nash, was completely left out of the process when it came to formulating the GP Tax.
“Now rural and regional Australia has to confront the freeze on indexation of Financial Assistance Grants.
“This means that once again the bush is doing all the heavy lifting. Forcing rural and regional ratepayers to carry the largest share of an almost $1 billion cut will only make these challenges greater for struggling communities.”
Sharon Bird said that the cuts will hamper the ability of regional councils to service their communities and develop and maintain pivotal critical infrastructure.
“Regional Councils are now faced with the unenviable choice of either making rates and charges unaffordable for families or cutting essential services.
“Since Labor introduced financial assistance grants in 1975 they have enabled local governments to provide good roads, decent libraries, well-maintained parks, regular garbage pick-ups and high quality services, including child care.
“The Abbott Government has once again failed to consider what regional services will be lost and which communities will be forced to fit the bill for these cuts.
“Labor will continue to stand up for the needs of regional and rural Australia because it is clear Tony Abbott and the Nationals have stopped listening.”